Peggy: As Kidada grew older, it became clear that she wouldn’t be comfortable unless she was around kids who looked more like her. So I searched for a private school that had a good proportion of black students, and when she was 12, I found one.
Kidada: That changed everything. I’d go to my black girlfriends’ houses and–I wanted their life! I lived in a gated house in a gated neighborhood, where playdates were: “My security will call your security.” Going to my black friends’ houses, I saw a world that was warm and real, where families sat down for dinner together. At our house, Rashida and I often ate dinner on trays, watching TV in Anna’s room, because our dada was composing and performing at night and Mom sat in on his sessions.
Rashida: At this time, anyone looking at Kidada and me would have seen two very different girls. I wore my navy blue jumper and crisp white blouse; K wore baggy Adidas sweatsuits and door-knocker earrings. My life was school, school, school. I’m with Bill Cosby: It’s every bit as black as it is white to be a nerd with a book in your hand.
Kidada: The fact that Rashida was good at school while I was dyslexic intimidated me and pushed me more into my defiant role. I was ditching classes and going to clubs.
Rashida: About this time, Kidada was replacing me with younger girls from Fairfax who she could lead and be friends with.
Kidada: They were my little sisters, as far as I was concerned. After I graduated from high school, I found my passion: trend forecasting. I enrolled at L.A.’s Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, and my academic problems went out the window. All it took was finding something I loved for me to get A’s! While I was there, designer Tommy Hilfiger noticed a cover of Vibe magazine I had styled. He offered me a job in New York, being his muse, and he left me work in every part of his company–designing, marketing, advertising, modeling. Tommy got urban music. I was working with the hottest hip-hop acts: TLC, Snoop Dogg, Usher.
While Rashida was going to Jewish religious services with her boyfriend, Kidada found a new “little sister” in the young singer Aaliyah.
Kidada: Aaliyah and I talked on the phone dozens of times a day if we weren’t together. I never bought one of anything–I bought one for me and one for Aaliyah. So did she.
Rashida: But instead of bonding with Kidada, I rejected her–not because I wanted to, but because my boyfriend was telling me not to be dominated by my older sister. My boyfriend didn’t want me to be at Kidada’s 25th birthday party, so I skipped it. When I called her to apologize, she was so beyond anger, she murmured, “Whatever.”
Kidada: That hurt. A lot. But I had Aaliyah.
Peggy: I loved watching Kidada and Aaliyah together. They were going to be lifelong best friends. They wanted to get married in a double wedding, have their first kids together.
Rashida: When I heard about Aaliyah’s death, I dropped everything and went straight to L.A. Kidada collapsed in my arms. She said, “Now you’re going to have to step in and be my little sister.” I said, “I’m ready.” Being together during Kidada’s must vulnerable time made us realize we were irreplaceable to each other.